Education

Give It Up
July 30, 2009

Twice during Wednesday night's press conference, reporters asked President Obama what sacrifices his health care reform plans would ask of the American people. It's a common and intuitive question: in order to give the public something--like a guarantee of health insurance that they can afford--the public has to give something up. Of course, it hasn't always worked that way in practice, like in the Bush years. But just because the last guy in the White House didn't demand the American people to pay for some policies doesn't mean the new guy should.

How Confused Are Americans About Health Care?
July 30, 2009

The New York Times' lede story today, which summarizes the paper's poll on health care and other issues, has taken flak from Mickey Kaus (second item). Here is the Times: Over all, the poll portrays a nation torn by conflicting impulses and confusion. In one finding, 75 percent of respondents said they were concerned that the cost of their own health care would eventually go up if the government did not create a system of providing health care for all Americans.

Must-read Of The Day: Obama Talks To Tumulty
July 30, 2009

Karen Tumulty got a lengthy, one-on-one interview with President Obama this week. They spent most of their time discussing health care--a topic, clearly, they both know well. Two particular passages caught my attention. The first was Obama's discussion of the rationing issue. It came after Tumulty asked the president about a story he'd told many times previously, about his grandmother getting hip surgery while she had terminal cancer. Wasn't that precisely the sort of treatment that was wasteful and unnecessary?

Do We Want Businessmen-doctors After All?
July 29, 2009

In response to my item about the sociology of doctoring--the idea that, more than any particular reform, we need fewer doctors who think of themselves as profit-maximizing businessmen and more who see themselves as adequately-compensated healers--a reader writes in with a fair point: I think you've got it backwards as far as cost control. If doctors are cold-hearted profit-maximizers, you can structure their incentives to conserve resources. If, however, their overriding concern is patient health, they are likely to remain stonily unconcerned about cost-effectiveness. Altruism will lead them t

Health Reform Critics And The Math They Won't Do, Cont'd.
July 29, 2009

Per my point about the unsustainability of health care costs and the unwillingness of reform-critics to acknowledge them, David Leonhardt passes along this helpful observation:   Health costs, on the other hand, are growing much more quickly than the economy. Over the last decade, the economy has expanded by about 20 percent, and health spending has ballooned 50 percent. The gap isn’t about to start closing, either. What say you Martin Feldstein? --Noam Scheiber

Rising Health Care Costs Top Public Conern
July 24, 2009

Interesting tidbit at the bottom of this Wall Street Journal story about GOP efforts to portray themselves as interested in health care reform: Resurgent Republic, a Web site that provides polling-based strategy for Republicans, noted that "there is a caveat" for the party's new, aggressive strategy.

The Politics Of Health Care Reform
July 24, 2009

On the front page of today's Washington Post, I read that health care reform is dying: Health Reform Deadline In DoubtProcess Could Be Slow And More Contentious Senate Majority Leader Harry M.

Medpac And The Jennifer Aniston Theory Of Obamaism
July 24, 2009

Sticking with the same topic as my previous post, The Atlantic's Derek Thompson, who brilliantly recast Frank's and my theory of Obamaism as the Jennifer Aniston theory of Obamaism, tries to extend the metaphor to accommodate Obama's enthusiasm for MedPAC (i.e., an independent agency that would make health care cost-cutting recommendations, which Congress could reject all at once but couldn't monkey around with). Thompson writes: I wonder how this statement on MedPAC jives with my Jennifer Aniston theory of Obamaism.

Why Congress Shouldn't Dictate Health Care Payments
July 24, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has a solid profile today of budget director Peter Orszag, which nicely illustrates the appeal of having an independent agency empowered to trim health cares costs. (The agency would make recommendations on how to save money, which Congress could vote down in their entirety but not adjust.) Says the Journal: The battle heated up in June, when Mr. Orszag visited Capitol Hill to discuss health care with a small group of House Democrats.

Rising Health Care Costs Top Public Concern
July 24, 2009

Interesting tidbit at the bottom of this Wall Street Journal story about GOP efforts to portray themselves as interested in health care reform: Resurgent Republic, a Web site that provides polling-based strategy for Republicans, noted that "there is a caveat" for the party's new, aggressive strategy. "Concern about rising health-care costs outstrips every other economic concern today," including job losses, it said in a recent analysis. That seems important, and a fact that would complicate Republican efforts to demagogue "rationing" health care. --Jonathan Chait

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